Andrea Corr sings into a microphone in a black dress with red bow while holding a microphone stand as Sharon Corr plays violin behind her on stage at BST: Hyde Park.
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Were The Corrs A 90s Country Band All Along? Their BST Hyde Park Set Suggests So

July 8, 2024 11:13 am GMT

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Amidst her headline set under the setting sun at Hyde Park in London, Shania Twain looked upon the thousands in attendance and offered her thoughts on the current popularity of the genre in which she first made her name.

"Seeing all those cowboy hats out there, I know that you guys are into the whole spirit of country music," Twain offered, acknowledging the variety of different coloured, sparkly, light-up western hats. "I think it's so much part of where our folk music has come from all over the world. This is what I love about country music. It's the song, it's the story and it just makes me feel good".

While Twain may be preaching to the choir with sentiments that many country acts that come to play in the UK offer, her notions felt particularly pertinent, considering the diverse line-up on offer across the whole day of festivities at the 60,000 capacity event.

While Elle King offered her badass rock n' roll blues, UK star Anne Marie delivered a contemporary pop shot in the arm, one that embraced the sort of genre-fluid sound that Twain herself found huge success with upon the release of the multi-million selling Come On Over.

But the most thought-provoking, euphoric and country of all the support acts were the penultimate group of the day - Irish sibling band, The Corrs.

While their booking certainly added to the nostalgic 90s flavour the weekend on the whole offered - with UK pop megastar Robbie Williams headlining the night before - the four-piece actually proposed a different question, one of genre rather than time. Were The Corrs actually the transatlantic answer to country's global boom in the '90s?

The Corrs' found massive success in England during the height of Britpop and New Labour (particularly with '97's Talk On Corners and 2000's In Blue), with a sound that took their traditional folk rock and Celtic influences and weaved them into pop-rock smash hits. While those sounds were very much rooted in their Irish heritage, they prospered in the US - going platinum at a time when Shania was one of the world's biggest acts and The Chicks were finding wide open spaces with their folk-infused country anthems.

Both The Corrs and The Chicks presented the idea of country coming full circle - folk influencing country thus then influencing folk - all while varnishing their sound with a 90s pop sheen. Take that into consideration and suddenly there's more to the notion than Caroline Corr simply wearing a cowboy hat in the video for 'What Can I Do', one of many wonderful sepia-tinged memories that were gloriously displayed behind the group as they played.

<p>The Corrs by Dave Hogan</p>

Andrea Corr Performs At BST: Hyde Park (Photography by Dave Hogan)

Almost 30 years on, including a near decade hiatus, The Corrs remain the dynamic live heavyweights they always were. Their biggest songs possess a spark undiminished by father time, only bolstered by the freedom and rawness with which the group play their instruments - fast, unbridled, unspoken.

'Haste to the Wedding' has the entirety of Hyde Park moving into a gentle jig at the very least, Andrea Corr relishing the opportunity to bring the tin whistle into 2024 as she whirls and weaves amongst her siblings on stage. 'Erin Shore' and closer 'Toss The Feathers' have much the same influence, wonderfully boisterous celtic standards brought to a contemporary mainstream audience, just as they were three decades previously. Those performances are not at all unlike Tyler Childers delving into the fiddle-conducted stomp of 'Cluck Ol' Hen', or the aforementioned Chicks running through their bluegrass instrumentals at the height of their MMXVI tour.

At the root of their biggest hits lies a country songwriting heart just aching to be let out. 'Breathless', undoubtedly the group's most well-known of bops, still incites the sort of giddy release only a truly romantic and jubilant smash hit can, while 'Summer Sunshine', underneath its rush of 2000s blur-beats and club keys live, has the kind of hook laden chorus that Swifties would've got all dewy eyed over if it had been on Fearless. It's no wonder Swift paid tribute to the band herself, calling The Corrs 'female professors'.

It once again raises the question of how restrictive the self-appointed gatekeepers who decide what is and is not country can truly be. In today's landscape, where judgements of what is authentic and accepted within the genre is more common than ever, are we missing something truly special through barefaced ignorance?

No matter if you think we are or not, with a set worthy of headline status - whether country, pop or otherwise - The Corrs remain a prospect well worth witnessing live, whether for the audience who grew up with them harking back to happy memories, or to a newer audience yet to unearth their genius.

Written by Ross Jones
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